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You Aren't Serious

People have opened up, and become wilder and naughtier in their gifting, which wasn’t the case a couple of years back.

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How about using an ashtray in the shape of a squat toilet, a mini bean bag as a phone rest, or a tray which gives you Batman-shaped ice-cubes? Beat the monotony of everyday personal and professional life with such funky, quirky and kitschy products that can lift your mood at any time of the day.

“These products can do what their normal avatars can do. But these funky products do the work, and even make you smile,” says Rajat Tuli, co-founder of Happily Unmarried, a company that has been in the business of spreading smiles with such products.

The products are as simple as pen stands, memo pads, keyrings, iPad sleeves, glasses, bottle openers, calendars, coasters, cushions, coffee mugs, lamps and even wall-clocks — but there’s something different, and a lot more creative and innovative about them.

Sample this — a mini steel tiffin box that serves the purpose of storing medicines, a bathroom curtain with a scary shadow of a person, and even soaps in shapes of different moustaches. You surely won’t give such items a miss if you spot them at a friend’s place, won’t you? So why not bring them into your own living space?

For Swati Jindal, a 25-year-old entrepreneur, buying these products “adds some spunk to an otherwise serious, disguised as ‘elegant and classy’ home living solution, controlled by our parents.”

Stores like Happily Unmarried, Chumbak, Play Clan and Gifts of Love have been satiating the sometimes bi

zarre, sometimes wacky tastes of such youngsters, through their brick-and-mortar stores, franchises and even through their web portals.

Vivek Prabhakar and his wife Shubhra wanted to bring stuff which “truly represented the India that you and I see today”. Now their brand offers products which are “full of color, remind you of India and make you smile.”

“Take for example, our laptop sleeves, they really brighten up any office desk and become a point of conversation. We look at categories that are boring and see how we can add some fun and color to them,” Prabhakar said.

In a latest initiative, a website, Whysoserious.co.in, is promoting use of products, which are fun and funky, yet useful and practical at an affordable price of anything between $1 to $40.

“These are interesting gifting options. The market is full of mundane and boring gifts, which people have been giving to each other since years, so this is just fun stuff,” Khushboo Verma, founder of Whysoserious said.

There are two reasons for naming the website the way it is — firstly, because “Why so serious” is a direct query to people living with dull products around them. And secondly, because Verma is a great fan of the 2008 Batman movie “The Dark Knight”. Late actor Heath Ledger’s famous character, the Joker, uses “Why so serious” as his tag line.

So anyway, why must you be serious?

“There’s already too much stress in life,” Tuli said, adding that the major clientele for his Happily Unmarried products, is formed by college-goers, and people in their 40s.

“People have opened up, and become wilder and naughtier in their gifting, which wasn’t the case a couple of years back,” he said.

Who designs these products? “People who are full of madness,” says Tuli.

Most often, these companies hire youngsters straight from institutions like the National Institute of Design (NID) and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), as well as people who have a knack of looking at everything differently.

How else would you come up with a woman’s curvy leg as a bottle opener, or a doormat which reads, “Egos and shoes outside!

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Life | Commentary | May 2013

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